Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Official Book Club Selection

There's something about putting things in print as opposed to saying them on stage: it seems they carry more weight. 
Even the jokes, people take more seriously
-from Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin

 

Kathy Griffin always gets on my nerves until I actually take a minute to pay attention to her. I've caught her reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, a couple times and was surprised I enjoyed it. I also watched an E! True Hollywood Story about her a few years ago and felt that she had a lot more depth than she portrays as a celebrity. I picked up her memoir the other day because I wanted a light read that would make me laugh and I was interested in learning more about Griffin; once again, I was surprised by the depth of this silly, ridiculous, D-List comedienne. 

Born and raised in Illinois, Griffin moved to Los Angeles after high school to pursue acting as a career. Her memoir chronicles the childhood experiences that led her to want a career in the entertainment industry and documents her journey up to the present day. There are two things I really took away from reading about Kathy Griffin's experiences: she really worked her butt off to achieve the success she has today and she couldn't have done it without the support of her family. Both of these things really impressed me and gave me a more positive impression of Griffin overall.

Griffin is incredibly transparent in her memoir, exposing details about her estranged older brother, her marriage, plastic surgery nightmares and details about her celebrity friends and coworkers. Some of her transparency felt brave, like her chapter on her brother and her marriage; other things felt catty and unnecessary, like her chapter on Brooke Shields. I found myself impressed with Griffin one minute and then annoyed with her the next - which, to be fair, isn't too different from how I ordinarily feel about her in the first place. Generally speaking though, Griffin's prose is smart, her stories are interesting and her reflections deeper than you might expect.

My biggest complaint was the length of this book, I felt like it would never end. I like to read celebrity memoirs for somewhat brief entertainment and, while Griffin's book was entertaining, it was lengthier than necessary. One chapter about Griffin's relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak consisted of nothing but emails between the couple; I think I read 5 pages and then skipped the rest of this chapter. The bonus chapter in the paperback edition felt like nothing but trash talking so I skipped that, too. If Kathy's editors could have snipped out her cattiness, the book might have earned itself an extra star and saved me a few hours of reading time.

Overall, I must say I like Kathy Griffin a lot better now that I've read this book. I appreciate how hard she works, how much she values family and how loyal she is as a person despite the persona she projects to the public. I am a little disappointed there were no Hanson references in the book; Kathy always used to reference Hanson! ;) 

Bottom Line: If you're interested in reading about a real struggle to make it in Hollywood, you'll find this interesting and entertaining. If you're on the fence about liking Kathy Griffin, you'll probably like this (and her), too! If you don't care about Kathy or the entertainment industry, skip it. // 3/5 stars

Do you like Kathy Griffin? Why/why not? Do you think reading her memoir would change your opinion? 

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